Think Creatively about Feeling good
Activating The Feel Good Chemicals
Lying in a hospital bed with crisp white sheets and plastic coated pillows, far away from my hometown of Coventry was definitely a new experience for me. I had just had an operation to treat the cysts that had entrapped my sacral nerves so was not allowed to sit up or get out of bed for a whole week in case my spinal fluid leaked…Scary stuff!
My family took turns to travel down to London, so for the first week, I had lots of familiar faces around me. The second week of my stay I was allowed to sit up and start to move around, however, although I was more mobile I still felt isolated when my family wasn’t there.
One day, in particular, I was sitting on my bed anxious about not being able to do anything and not having my loved ones next to me. Tears started to well up in my eyes, I searched for the box of tissues on my bedside table. Instead, I spotted a notebook and pens
The bright white pages stared at me, I hesitated before making my first mark. It wasn’t long before the pages started to fill up with lines, shapes, squiggles and words.
How Ya Doodling?
I was relaxed and content when the nurses arrived at the end my bed with my cocktail of medication. I was puzzled? meds come around every four hours… surely it couldn’t be pill time? If it was, my body would be alerting me. I was assured it was the right time and as the nurse handed me the plastic pot full of tablets she peered curiously into my notebook, her eyes scanning the joined-up words that sprawled across the pages before asking if I could doodle her favourite quote.
Of course, I obliged and before I knew it, other nurses, staff and patients were round my bed asking to see my creations and wanting their own quotes written out. Who would have thought the simple act of doodling would help me with pain relief, connecting with others and bringing smiles to peoples faces?
Backed By science
I started to research and found a wealth of information about how creativity releases the happy chemicals in our brains, in particular, endorphins, which are considered to be natures own Morphine.
Whenever I was feeling low or in pain, I would reach for my paper and pens. Doodling soon became a habit. Creating things for people was my way of thanking them for looking after me. It made them feel good as well as providing amazing benefits for me.
I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t started to explore my creativity. The professionals told me that when you are diagnosed with a long-term condition or experience, you go through the grief cycle. You mourn the life you once had, you get angry that your body can’t do the things you want it to and this can lead to depression. I have battled with my mental health for many years so I could quite easily slip back into that dark place of despair, anxiety and anguish.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Thankfully I did find my creativity and it has opened up a whole new world to me. Organising Feel Good events has helped me to focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t. When I had to resign from the teaching job I had to think creatively about what work I could do to fit around my illness.
To start with, Feel Good events, were self and family funded, we then asked the community for help with donations of materials, cakes, RAOK, etc. However, my grand dreams for Feel Good would mean we needed a cash injection to make them become a reality. It got me thinking… How could I use my creativity to generate an income for Feel Good? hmmmm…
FEEL GOOD IDEA!
…What about if I designed a range of Feel Good products? things that have been helping me to
Feel Good. Could I use the research on happiness I have found to help design these products? What if I created things that could help others to get creative? What if the community helped create some of these products? The ideas kept flowing… how could I make this a reality?
I had come across Unltd Funding several years prior but never had a good enough idea to apply. Now I had the perfect idea all I needed to do was convince them to think the same!
TIME TO DO IT!
Thankfully they did and I was awarded the Do It Award. Receiving this award has enabled me to learn the skills needed to turn my illustrations into digital images, helped me to get the website up and running, along with the help of an amazing chap called The Blog Trainer (more about him later), helped me to start creating prototype products and given me the knowledge needed to turn Feel Good Com into a social enterprise. It has been a huge learning curve and a lot slower than planned but progress is being made! Keep an eye out for our Feel Good products in the shop…
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